As I type this, Matthew is watching a "Thomas the Tank Engine" video and getting really into it. To the point of a mild anxiety attack.
In this particular episode, Thomas has broken down on the railroad track and appears unable to get his package to its destined location on time. As the episode progresses, the dramatic music picks up, illustrating the dire nature of the situation and causing little Matthew to become increasingly worried about the fate of his favorite "choo-choo train." He stands there staring in horror, about two feet away from the television screen, with his hands clasped tightly over his little mouth: "Oh no, Thomas! OOOHHH NOOOOO!"
Too funny. And it's NOT like he hasn't seen this particular episode before.
But, as we have seen about 100 times in the past, Thomas is saved by his fellow tank engines and continues on his merry way through the Island of Sodor and even receives a little pat on the back from Sir Topham Hatt. And all is right with the world. (If you have no knowledge of the series, you probably have no idea what I'm talking about!).
Matthew is now breathing a little more easily. "Yay Thomas! Yay, he did it!"
In addition to being extremely passionate about fictitious tank engines, Matthew has continued to demonstrate an unrelenting passion for all things kitchen related. When he first started to show a penchant for appliances around the age of 9 months, both Paul and I thought it would be a fleeting fetish, one that would disappear once he began to notice all the wonderful toys and teddy bears that filled his play room.
How wrong we were.
He continues to love helping out in the kitchen just so he can get an up close look at my miracle kitchen tools in action. When I received a food processor as a gift, I think he was more excited than I was (and I was VERY excited!). Thus, I have to make sure Matthew feels involved in the process of creating any dish or treat that requires the use of the larger countertop appliances. This recipe for Oreo Cheesecake Bars is one of those recipes.
Mathew was in charge of putting the oreo cookies into the bowl of the food processor. After about 10 minutes, he accomplished that (there was a lot of munching going on in between) and then was instructed to pulse the cookies to oblivion. He took that part of his job very seriously. We were pretty much left with oreo cookie dust after he was finally finished pushing the pulse button on the food processor. But he made a darn beautiful crust for these babies.
This is a simple, easy, delicious treat. The only drawback is that you have to wait for them to chill (I would recommend a full 24 hours) so that they will cut with ease into perfect squares. We shared these with friends who had just welcomed home a new baby and they were perfectly portable and enjoyed by both the adults and the kids. They taste just like a mouthful of cookies and milk!
Oreo Cheesecake Bars
from Beth Lipton's book You Made That Dessert?
For the Crust:
1 (1 pound) package Oreo cookies
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
For the Filling:
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated white sugar
3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a 9 x 13-inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on two sides.
Place 28 Oreos in a food processor and process until finely ground. Pour into a large bowl, add the melted butter, and stir with a spatula until all crumbs are moistened. Place the cookie-crumb mixture in the lined pan and, using your fingers, press the mixture firmly and evenly into the bottom. Bake 10 minutes, then remove to a wire cooling rack, leaving the oven on, while you make the filling.
Snap the remaining Oreos in half, put them in the food processor, and turn on and off quickly a few times, just until the cookies are roughly chopped.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and sugar until well blended at medium speed, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula and beat again until uniform. Beat in sour cream, vanilla and salt. Scrape down the bowl and mix again. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. After beating in the last egg, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and beat one more time, to make sure the mixture is fully combined. Gently stir in chopped Oreos with the same spatula.
Pour the cream cheese mixture over the baked cookie crust, smooth the top with the spatula, and bake for 40 minutes, until the filling is set around the edges but still slightly wobbly in the center when you gently shake the pan. Remove the pan to a wire rack to cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. When cool, cover it with foil and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours. (I definitely recommend chilling them overnight).